Owning Who You Are In Christ!

Lately, I have felt that I’m not good enough in many areas of my life. But God says, “you are good enough”. “You are good enough for Me to let My Son die on the cross. You are good enough even when someone bullies you or misjudges you for who you are.”

God sees value in you! He sees beauty in you! God loves you every day of every moment of your life. Own it!!! Because God has always called you His Child! You are good enough for Him!

Please take a moment and watch this video:

Facing Challenges

We all face challenges in life.  It could be mental, emotional, or physical.  Hardship sometimes causes us to have unhealthy emotions.  When we face challenges, the devil tries to convince us that it is impossible to overcome it.  We begin to doubt ourselves and feel defeated.  Satan wants us to lose the power and authority we have with God.  But the Lord wants us to feel empowered to overcome any obstacle that comes our way.  In Isaiah 41:13 says, “For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, ‘Do not fear; I will help you.’”  We are not alone in our battles!  God is with us every step of the way.

The decisions we make during hardships are crucial.  Our choices determine our future.  Our emotions can get in the way of making good decisions.  We can easily become impatient and angry.  We have to learn how to control our emotions to have a clear mind.  We must always be in prayer with every step we take to be an overcomer through Christ.  When we feel overwhelmed with our emotions, we need to “cast all [our] anxiety on [God]” (1 Peter 5:7).  We need to go to God in prayer so He can remind us He has already given us peace.  We just need to declare His peace over our lives!  In John 14:27, Jesus says, “I am leaving you with a gift–peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.” 

Philippians 4:13 is a powerful Scripture that is well known and often misunderstood.  It states, “I can do all this through Him [, God,] who gives me strength.”  We cannot be overcomers through our own strength.  The only way we can overcome obstacles is through God.  We cannot do it alone!  We need God!

When we face challenges, God promises us rewards.  James 1:12 tells us “blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love Him.”  The Bible says “that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope” (Romans 5:3-4).  We not only get rewarded, but we build our character through hardship.  We grow in our faith and learn who we are as an individual.

The Bible promises us “that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).  I encourage you to persevere “so you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (James 1:4).  I pray you stay strong in your faith.  Do not let the devil get you down.  God is on your side and will always be there for you!

Declaration: You are a conqueror through Christ!

“Beautifully Broken”

Recently, I started reading a book called, “The End of Me” written by Kyle Idleman.  So far, it has been an incredible book about the beauty of being broken in the presence of God.  Jesus becomes real in our lives when we are broken for Him.  It is when we come to the end of ourselves that God shows up to pick up the pieces of our lives to put them back together one-by-one.  In Luke 9:24, it states that “whoever loses life will find it.”

In this book, the author portrays a beautiful picture of what brokenness really looks like.  In Luke 7, Jesus is having dinner with a religious leader, Simon.  Simon has disregarded all tradition by not greeting Jesus with a kiss on the hand, washing his feet, and anointing his head with oil.  Simon is rich and the people feared him so he intentionally did not honor Jesus as his guest in his home.  Simon wanted to be the master of his home, not Jesus.  At one point in the middle of dinner, a sinful woman enters Simon’s home uninvited.  She heard through the crowds Jesus was in town and was having dinner with Simon and other religious leaders.  While everyone else looked at her with judgment, Jesus looked at her with unconditional love.  She did not focus on the disgruntled faces around her and allowed Jesus’ love to overwhelm her.  You see, Jesus saw “her as beautifully broken” while the others saw her as tainted and untouchable (“The End of Me”).

The woman kept her eyes focused on Jesus and knelt at Jesus’ feet.   She began to weep uncontrollably and, with her tears, she cleaned His feet.  She let down her hair and dried His feet.  She then took an entire bottle of perfume and poured it on Jesus’ feet.  In this moment, “she offers all that she has, because He has changed all that she is” (“The End of Me”).  A prostitute, known for our profession, “has become a living embodiment of cleansing” (“The End of Me”).  Jesus tells her that her sins are forgiven (Luke 7:48).  Her brokenness is recognized, and she is made whole again.  What an incredible imagery of being made whole in Christ in just one moment.

“Brokenness often overflows with hidden beauty.  It is redemptive by design” (author unknown).  The moment Jesus forgave the woman from all her sins, it was redemption.  She was not ashamed of her past; she boldly walked into a religious leader’s home to have a moment with Jesus.  This Biblical story reminds us to never be ashamed to bear our scars in the church or around our family and friends.  Our past tells a story of redemption–of who we were and who we are today.

If you look closer in the story of Luke 7, we see that Simon is carrying around brokenness as well.  He is so arrogant about his status that he refused to greet his guests with traditions.  He does not respect who Jesus is and only invited Jesus to dinner out of obligation.  Instead of receiving a blessing from Jesus, he received a rebuke from Him.  The sinful woman knew that she was broken and needed Jesus’ forgiveness, but Simon, on the other hand, did not recognize his brokenness.

Romans 3:23 states that we “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”  The truth is, we are all broken people who need Jesus.  We can complete this sentence: “We are the people who _________________________________________” (“The End of Me”).  Who have debt, ignored the hurting, looked down on others, etc.  We are the kind of people who wants to avoid being honest with ourselves.  “Most of us have some conception, in our heart to hearts, that a lot of the pieces never seem to be mended.  But we will go to great lengths to avoid the full, honest embrace of our condition” (“The End of Me”).  “The only solution for being broken is brokenness.  Brokenness is the way to wholeness.” (“The End of Me”).

APPLICATION

When was the last time you recognized your brokenness and knelt at Jesus’ feet overwhelmed by His love for you?  Are you avoiding the brokenness that keeps on pulling you down and telling you lies about yourself?  It’s time to bear your scars and be real with God and others about your past or present life.  It’s time for you to be whole again through Christ.

PRAYER

“God, take my broken pieces and remold them into what seems best for you” (“The End of Me”).  Lord, help me to be vulnerable and bear my scars so I can be mended and whole again.  In Your Name, Amen!

Singleness Is Not A Curse

ENCOURAGEMENT

This week God has put on my heart to encourages those in their mid-20’s and 30’s, who are single, to not give up or be discouraged.  While you are single, it is important to remember that it does not make you incomplete as a person.  It is not a label placed on you by others. It is not something to be ashamed of.  Singleness means you are strong enough to stand on your own and be confident in who you are.

Singleness does NOT mean you are not pretty enough, smart enough, or skinny enough to date, be engaged, or married.  Your worth comes from God. He gives you the courage to patiently wait for your godly man. I encourage you to marry someone who loves God more than he loves you. The wait will be worth it, no matter your age.

PERSONAL STORY

I am about 35 years of age and never been married.  Most relationships I have left me heartbroken and worthless.  I have been engaged twice and, before the wedding day, the relationship fell apart.  I have been told by many that being a Christian does not mean you have to marry a Christian.  Out of desperation, I have tried to date non-Christians and ended up not working out because of different beliefs.  I struggle with commitment in relationships.  I struggle with finding an authentic Christian guy who loves God more than me.  I have dated Christian men who just follow what I do, and he never becomes the Christian leader that he needs to be.

I have always had an insecurity that I was not good enough or pretty enough to find a guy who will love me for who I am.  I have been told while in engagement, “Why am I even marrying you?!”  I have had guys tell me, “Why can’t you be who I want you to be” or “I’m not worth the wait”.  Those words that were spoken over me hurt me deeply and have cursed any relationship that was good in my life.

There came a time when I realized those words have no meaning in my life.  The only words I need to hear are from my heavenly Father.  He knows my true identity.  He knows who I will marry.  And, one day, broken and alone, I put my trust in God and never looked back.  My life is whole in Christ.  I do not need a man to tell me how beautiful I am, or how smart I am to feel complete.  God speaks those words over me every day.  I am content being single until the right Christian guy comes my way!

POEM

While I was organizing my desk at home a few weeks ago, I found a poem that encouraged me, and would like to share it with you.  It is called, “On His Plan For Your Mate”.  If you need to find contentment today, find contentment with God.  He knows the plans He has for you (Jeremiah 29:11).  I encourage you to walk in His promises and trust in God’s timing.

ON HIS PLAN FOR YOUR MATE

Everyone longs to give himself or herself completely to someone.
To have a deep and soul relationship with another, to be loved
thoroughly and exclusively.  But God says to the Christian – no,
not until you are satisfied, fulfilled, and content with being loved
by Me alone.  I love you, My Child, and until you discover that
only in Me is your satisfaction to be found, you will not be
capable of the perfect human relationship that I have planned for
you.  You can never be united with another until you are united
with me – exclusive of anyone or anything else, exclusive of any
other desires and longings.  I want you to stop planning, stop
wishing, and allow Me to give you the most thrilling plan
existing – one that you cannot even imagine.  I want you to have
the best.  Please allow Me to bring it to you – just keep watching
Me, expecting the greatest thing – keep experiencing that
satisfaction of knowing of knowing that I am.  Keep learning
and listening to the things I tell you…you must wait.

Don’t be anxious.  Don’t worry.  Don’t look around at the things
others have, or things that I have given them.  Don’t look at the
things you think you want, just keep looking at Me, or you will
miss what I want to show you.  And, then when you are ready,
I’ll surprise you with a love far more wonderful than anyone
could ever dream.  I am working, even this very minute, to have
both you and the one I have for you, ready at the same time.
Until you are both satisfied exclusively with Me, and the life
I have prepared for you will not be able to experience the love
that exemplifies your relationship with Me…
and this is perfect love.

And, dear one, I want you to have this most wonderful love;
I want you to see in Me, in the flesh, a picture of your relationship
with Me.  To enjoy materially and concretely the everlasting
union of beauty, perfection, and love that I offer you with
Myself.  Know that I love you utterly.
Believe and be satisfied.
I am God Almighty.

Below is a link to the poem, if you would like a printable version:
Poem for Single Christians

Worshipping Through Scripture Series – God of Second Chances

In Luke 15:11-32, a son decided to selfishly take His father’s inheritance for the desire to live a better life.  In this parable, we learn that the son had to shamefully come back home, because he realized his life with his father was better than living on his own.  It was better than living in a pig sty for food and clothes.  He left his father’s house with money and returned home with only the shirt on his back.  He had nothing to give but himself.  This story is filled with bad decisions, regret, prayer, and a father’s love.

Many Christian artists have written songs about the prodigal son, and the love that the father showed upon his return.  Laura Story, a young Christian artist, wrote a song called, “Prodigal”, and in her song she tells a story of a father who is desperately awaiting for his son’s return.  The father used to go to the ballpark every day, but, since his son’s disappearance, he prays on his front porch, rocking in his chair, wondering where is son is.  “He is watching, and he is hoping” and “though his eyes are weary, his arms are still open” as “his prayer so softly spoken” begging his son to “come home”.  The father “longs to see his face in younger skin running down the driveway again”.  The father is crying out to God saying, “It was just a disagreement.  Why did my son leave?”

An American Christian rock band, 7eventh Time Down, wrote a song referencing the prodigal story called, “The One I’m Running To”.  It tells about a married couple with three children struggling to pay the bills, and they are both working multiple jobs to make ends meet.  The financial situation is putting a strain on the marriage and their family.  Their faith is running low, and they need of a miracle.  During the middle of night, exhausted from crying, they get on their knees declaring that they will never run from God, but run towards Him.  They know He is their “only Hope who satisifies [their] heart[s]”.  They know deep down that God is “everything that’s good and right and true.”  Their faith keeps them strong in their circumstances.

Another popular rock Christian band named Kutless wrote a song called, “Come Back Home”.  In this song, it is encouraging the prodigal to come home.  It challenges the person who is lost and reckless, to find freedom in his or her situation.  Just like in Luke 15:20-21, it tells the prodigal to “come back home” because “I’ll be running out to meet you”.  In this parable, the father forgives his son and runs toward him with open arms.

APPLICATION

We all relate to one of these songs that tells a story of broken people who simply Jesus.  Maybe you are the one waiting for the prodigal son or daughter to come home.  Or the one struggling to keep your faith in a difficult situation.  Or the one who is the prodigal child struggling to return home.  No matter which story relates to you the most, it is never too late to pray for God in a hopeless situation.  It is never too late to come home to a Father who loves you unconditionally.  The Father’s arms are opened wide desperately waiting for your return.

The Father is answering your prayers in His perfect timing.  If you are the father on the porch praying for your son or daughter to return home, keep on rocking.  If you are the child who needs to make the journey home, take the first step in the right direction.

Worshipping Through Scripture Series -Being An Overcomer Through Christ

As Christians, we live in a world filled with chaos.  Every day we put on our Armor of God and fight the battles of this world.  With God on our side, we face “giants” with confidence and come out as winners through Christ.

There are several characters in the Bible who have fought and defeated giants.  One of the characters is named David.  In 1 Samuel, chapter 17, David fought and defeated a giant named, Goliath, with just a sling shot and a stone.  His story encourages us to stand strong on the battlefield, no matter what we are facing.

Two Christian artists, Francesca Battistelli and Blanca, wrote songs based off this Scripture to encourage Christians to not give up in the fight.  These songs remind us to stay on the battlefield and to trust that God will come through for us.  Francesca Battistelli wrote a song in 2014 called, “Giants Fall”.  The song is written in honor of a young girl, at the age of 11, who wanted to start an organization called, “Project Yesu”.  The purpose of the organization is to minister to girls and women in Uganda.  When the artist read her story about being mocked by others and being told she was crazy to start an organization, Battistelli was inspired to write a song to encourage all of us to be bold and courageous for what we believe in.  It’s never “too late” or “too far” to turn away from sin and walk with God (prodigal son, Luke 15:11:32).  We are never “too small” and it’s never “too hard” to go after our dreams (David and Goliath, 1 Samuel 17).

In the chorus, it states “don’t you be afraid of the giants in your way [because], with God you know that anything’s possible” (Referenced: Matthew 19:26; 1 John 4:18).  The chorus continues to encourage us to stay in the fight with boldness and bravery and watch the giants fall.  “With childlike faith” (Matthew 18:2-4), mountains will move and miracles will happen (Hebrews 11:1; Matthew 17:20).

Blanca, also wrote a powerful song in 2015 called, “Greater is He”.  She wrote the song in honor of her mother being diagnosed with cancer.  The artist was inspired by her mother’s courageous fight to live.  The song lyrics expresses the struggles we deal with on a daily basis.  It starts out saying, “I face a giant in over my head.  Help me to look up [and remember to] take a deep breath” (Referenced: David and Goliath, 1 Samuel 17).  These lyrics are a prayer to God desperately crying out to Him to be present in our circumstances.  I imagine this artist face down on the floor crying out to God for a miracle for her mother.

In the chorus, Blanca declares who God is through Jesus’ miracles.  She states that her family have faced “an ocean [with] waves raging (Psalm 89:9, 93:4; Mark 4:35-41) and, with faith, they have “step[ped] out on the sea” to meet Jesus (Matthew 14:2-23).  The song continues on to proclaim God’s name.  We can face anything “in His name”.

APPLICATION

We were all made to be warriors through Christ.  The songs mentioned above are powerful and will lift our spirits when we are discouraged and feel defeated.  The lyrics and the meaning behind these songs come from the heart of these artists.  Battistelli and Blanca both wrote songs through inspiration of others.  They were inspired by someone else’s strength while going through hardship.

These two songs declare who God is through Scripture.  Just like David in 1 Samuel 17, we have our own battles to fight and win.  The lyrics remind us to stay strong in the fight and always have God by our side.  Philippians 4:13 states that we “can do all things through Him who gives [us] strength.”  I encourage you to put on your Armor of God and run onto the battlefield to face your giants.

OTHER REFERENCES TO LOOK UP

  • Joshua 24:14-18 (Joshua’s Story) – “Every Giant Will Fall” by Rend Collective, The Promise land.

Women’s Insecurities – Week Four

In the last three weeks, we have talked about being honest with ourselves and explaining the common areas that women struggle with on a day-to-day basis.  We have also talked about self-rejection from our past as well as rejection from others.  This week we are focusing on how to deal with rejection and use it to better ourselves rather than allow it to bring us down.

Studies show that rejection affects the physical pathways in our brain (Uninvited by Lysa TerKeurst).  Rejection is a deep rooted issue that people face every day, and it stirs up our emotions to make us think negative about ourselves or to something.  It can be defined as not “just an emotional feeling, [but] a message that alters what you believe about yourself” (Uninvited by Lysa TerKeurst).  Rejection has the power to change who we are as an individual.  It can change the way think about a situation.  It is a physical pain that reminds us of loss and feeling unwanted.  “Rejection can make [us] question [God’s] goodness” in our lives (Uninvited by Lysa TerKeurst).

If we don’t want rejection to ruin our lives, we need to have a new perspective on how we handle rejection.  In the Spiritual realm, we can think of it as a blessing.  Lysa TerKeurst stated that “today’s disappointment is making room for tomorrow’s appointment” (Uninvited).  We do not always understand why God says no to our prayers or requests when we want it so badly, but we do not want to miss God’s opportunities by always remembering the disappointments of our past.  We never move past the disappointment if we always ask “why” questions rather than “what” questions.  “‘What’ questions increase our ability to become more self-aware, while ‘why’ questions only focus on things out of control (Uninvited by Lysa TerKeurst).  When we ask “why” we see what we lack rather than what is ahead of us.

So…”What’s a brokenhearted person to do?” (Uninvited by Lysa TerKeurst).  How do we overcome rejection?  We “praise, seek, and look to God” for comfort.  We “experience, learn from, and draw near to God” in every situation (Uninvited by Lysa TerKeurst).  Rejection does not label us, and it is not a permanent condition.  It does not keep us from succeeding in our future; It just means we had a setback.  “If we give [rejection] the power to define us, it will haunt us long-term.  But if we only allow it enough power to refine us, the hurt will give way to healing” (Uninvited by Lysa TerKeurst).  TerKeurst also states to “not let [rejection] destroy [us but to] use it in good ways to make [us] stronger” (Uninvited).  We need to use it to empower us to become better.  “Don’t let today’s reaction become tomorrow’s regret” (Uninvited by Lysa TerKeurst).  What this statement is saying is do not allow your emotions to get in the way of wisdom.

Our past rejections do not have to define our future.  It is our choice to change rejection for the good.  Maybe God wanted you to take another path than the one you prayed about.  Maybe God allowed you to experience a hurtful situation so you could understand compassion towards others.  “The enemy loves to take our rejection and twist it into a raw, irrational fear that God really doesn’t have a good plan for us” (Uninvited by Lysa TerKeurst).  Do not believe that lie, because “God is always at work” in our lives.  “He is a present, loving Father, aware of our deepest hurts and even our deeper needs” (Uninvited by Lysa TerKeurst).

Even if you don’t hear His voice, He is there!
Even though you don’t feel His touch, He is there!
Even if you lost your faith, He is there!

APPLICATION

Yes, rejection hurts, but we can overcome it through Jesus Christ.  We are all overcomers through Him.  We do not have to live in defeat by our own insecurities.  Rejection is only a temporary setback to make us stronger.  Our past hurts and failures do not have to hinder our future.  We get up, dust ourselves off, and walk towards Jesus.  Jesus is our Healer and our Comforter.  He is the One who guides us towards our future with confidence and self-worth.

I encourage all of us to remove the labels in our lives and let God redefine who we are through His promises and love.  We live in victory when we live for Christ!  Our success comes from Him.  It does not come from our past.  It does not come from the devil.  It only comes from God.

The Christmas Blues

During the holidays, some people are excited about buying presents for the ones they love.  They enjoy gathering with their family and friends as they celebrate the joy of Christmas.  They cannot wait to put up the tree and decorations.  While others dread the awkwardness of gatherings and crowds.  They dread the decorations, because no one is there to see it.  The holidays remind them of the ones they lost this year or the singleness that it brings.  For me, the holidays bring sadness.  The gatherings remind me of how lonely I am.  I usually wait until everyone sits so all the couples can sit together.  I get asked if I am dating or when will I get married.  The response is awkward, and I get the “what’s wrong with me look” or sympathy.  I never feel like I fit into big crowds.  I am always singled out without anyone intentionally making me feel this way.  It just happens.

The holidays are supposed bring happiness and joy.  It is not supposed to make you feel alone and rejected.  This year I decided to make a change and decided to go on an online Christian dating site hoping to have a boyfriend by Christmas.  You see, I made a big mistake.  I have only had disappointment or fear by being on this site which made it worse for the holidays.  I set myself up for failure.

The thing is, Christmas is not about how I feel, but it is about Jesus’ birthday.  I should have joy, because Jesus was born to save the world. He was born of a virgin, and He was God and man in one.  He came to live on earth to teach us about His Father, on how to live a pure life, and what it means to sacrifice our lives for others.  He taught us how to love unconditionally and how to forgive.  Christmas is not about us; It’s about Him!

My pastor talked yesterday about how Jesus’ birth was not perfect.  It was full of disappointment and rejections.  Jesus was born in a manger with animals and hay around him.  My pastor reminded the congregation that the stable was not an ideal place to give birth, let alone our Savior’s birth.  It smelled and was damp.  It was not the most sterile place to have a baby.  The first Christmas was messy and not what Mary and Joseph expected.

We can all relate to Jesus’ story of His birth that life is not perfect, but we can enjoy what is good in our lives.  During the holidays, we need to see what we have rather than what we lack.  We need to enjoy the people we have in our lives today and be in remembrance of those who are no longer with us.  Let us not miss out on the people we share life with today.  Let us not grieve over what we do not have and miss out on the blessings God wants to give us through Jesus’ birth.  We have plenty to celebrate!  So let us, including myself, move past the Christmas blues and start making memories of today!

In This World There Will Be Trouble

It is so easy to say statements like:
“When it rains, it pours!”
“Trouble never comes alone!”

I try to avoid thinking or even saying those statements, because they bring negativity into your life. When storms are brewing all around you and life seems impossible, the best place to be is in Jesus’ arms seeking peace and comfort. In John 16:33, Jesus says, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”  God says there will be trouble, but we are conquerors through Him.

The past seven months have been a struggle, and I am thankful that I have godly people in my life to encourage me and walk this journey out with me. I have dealt with disappointment, financial needs, medical issues, and spiritual warfare. The enemy has tried to destroy me with insecurities to break me and make me lose my hope in Christ. Sometimes I feel overwhelmed and exhausted. Sometimes I feel empowered and can conquer the world. My faith has not wavered during this time. I realize the struggle is real, and satan does everything in his power to tear you down. I want this journey to be a testimony for others to see that you can find strength and hope in the midst of chaos. The only way to find hope in the middle of the circumstances is to find God’s peace over your life.

I found some quotes that were encouraging:

“The real man smiles in trouble, gathers strength from distress, and grows brave by reflection.” — Thomas Paine

“Life is difficult for everyone; everyone has bad days. Everyone has trouble in their life, because it doesn’t matter how rich you are: Sickness and trouble and worry and love, these things will mess with you at every level of life.”– Domhnall Gleeson

Finally we must realize that, “storms don’t last forever.”

These are moments in our lives that can define us. How we handle the situation can build our character and strengthen our walk with the Lord.  It’s a choice!  Do we fight the battle of life with God on our side or do we fight alone?  As long as we have God fighting the battle with us, it is a guaranteed victory.  We fight with strength and endurance and never grow weary.  Isaiah 40:31 says, “those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” 

Life may be hard and sometimes overwhelming, but, with God, He will continue to give us the strength we need to conquer our troubles and not be defeated!